Top Chef Insights

Ever wondered whether a Master Chef's guilty pleasure is simply peanut butter or mac 'n cheese? Want to find out what the latest menu trends will be for the coming season? Always wondered who inspires some of the leading chefs in the industry? We've asked these questions and have the answers for you here.

View archived Top Chef Insights interviews.

November's Featured Chef: Chef David Binkle, CEC, Los Angeles Unified School District

What made you want to become a chef?
Growing up in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada my mother put me to work at 14 as a busboy at the Charcoal Steak House. She said that as long as I learned a trade I would never be without a job to survive in life. I worked there throughout my high school days and watched the chefs prepare the food and thought it would be a great career. I moved from busboy to cook's helper to grill cook to learn the trade.

What's the newest trend you see emerging?
The new trends I see are smoked fruits and vegetables, savory desserts like zucchini cupcakes and sours using more vinegars with a continued explosion of Sriracha 

What new ingredient have you been incorporating into your menu?
Menus are incorporating more localized ingredients such as California whole wheat and Persian cucumbers

With winter approaching, what seasonal changes do you see coming to menus?

Squash is being incorporated into the upcoming menus with pasta for the winter season.

What's the weirdest thing we would find in your refrigerator? 
Sunflower Butter

What was your favorite class in culinary school? 
Intro to Baking because of the scientific elements of bringing ingredients together to create an new product.

If you could eat anywhere in the world, where would that be?
The new Tavern on the Green, NYC to see how it compares to landmark history after it shuttered. New chef Jeremiah Tower is highly acclaimed and am eager to try it.

Is there one comfort food that you're secretly obsessed with having at home?
Plain white rice with butter and pepper

Which talent would you most like that you don't possess? 
For work it is to properly write and create memos. For life it would be to sing and play guitar.

What's your favorite meal to cook for friends? 
Spanish Paella

Who were your mentors as you were becoming a chef?
Eileen Jutzi, Chef
Joe T. Cassady, Senior VP, Morrison Restaurants

If you could cook for and dine with anyone, who would that be?
Alice Waters, Michelle Obama and the Pope

More about Chef David Binkle: 

Chef Binkle is an internationally recognized highly coveted speaker and presenter, award winning chef and food service director.

Born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, David was appointed Director of Food Services for the Los Angeles Unified School District in July 2012 where he oversees a program serving over 650,000 meals per day by a team of 4,000 employees.  Prior to joining the District, Binkle was Director of Dining Services at California State University, Fresno.

He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduate degree from California State University, Northridge Tseng College and a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Health.

As a Certified Executive Chef (CEC), Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC) and Certified Culinary Administrator (CCA) he brings more than 30 years of industry experience from fine dining, hotels, country clubs and institutional food service.  An instructor of culinary arts at the Institute for Culinary Education he learned his culinary skills both self-taught and through certificates at the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park, New York.

A Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow and longtime member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), Chef Binkle was awarded the 2011 Los Angeles Chef of the Year and is a 2010 recipient of the ACF Presidents Award National Medallion of Honor and 2013 Presidential Coin. 

As a member of the Les Amis De Escoffier Society, the Retail Bakers of America (RBA), World Association of Chef’s Society (WACS) and School Nutrition Association (SNA), Binkle has made numerous television and print media appearances including CNN, ABC News Tonight, the LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report, CBS & NBC News and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. He has been featured on the cover of Food Management and The Magazine of Santa Clarita multiple times.

Binkle has presented at UCLA’s Royce Hall, The Culinary Institute of America, The National Restaurant Association MUFSO and SNA’s Annual Conference to name a few.  Chef Binkle will appear in the critically acclaimed Food Forward, a 13 episode PBS Documentary of people in America who are changing the way Americans eat and is featured in production of Our Food Chain to be released in the fall of 2014.  

He is the owner of Canada Culinary Inc. providing services to such clients as SuperValu, the State of Montana, MINT Foods Canada and the Center for Ecoliteracy.


October Chef Insights - Alan Ogard, Lexington Hotel
September Chef Insights
- Barbie Marshall, The Farming Chef
August Chef Insights - Cal DeMercurio, Corporate Executive Chef, Black Bear Diner
July Chef Insights - Johannes Bernau, Executive Chef, Who Song & Larry's
June Chef Insights - Ryan Vargas, Chef de Cuisine at Emeril's Tchoup Chop